Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle


Information Page

Freshwater Fishing

For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).

Back to piking.

I occasionally have emails asking me about the use of circle hooks. For some years now I've been using these hooks for most of my predator fishing with natural baits. Bass, pike, chub and perch are all susceptible to the use of baits attached to single hooks of this pattern. The main advantage is that most fish are hooked in the edge of the mouth and very rarely does it even need surgery or messing about to remove the hook from your catch. So, it's easier for the angler and much kinder to any fish which is being returned alive.

I've been resting my injured back for a week or two now so cabin fever was beginning to set in. This morning the sun was shining and there had been no overnight frost so I decided to give the river a bash. Pike were the most likely target so I opted to try wobbling a dead dace, the only problem being lack of any suitable baits. Anyway I set off at about 11:00hr armed with my light float gear and a few maggots left over from my last mullet fishing trip. For once I was into dace straight away and after three casts I'd landed three suitable baits - magic. I put the float gear back in the car, picked up my pike rod and landing net and hiked along to a likely spot. The river was in nice nick so I was optimistic. A six ounce dace was impaled through both lips with a debarbed size 6/0 circle hook on a knottable wire trace and swung out across the river. I let it sink a bit and then slowly twitched it back towards the slack under my own bank. It was probably five or ten minutes before the line went tight and I felt a few tugs. I slowly tightened up and the fish was on. At first it lounged about under my rod tip then it saw me and decided to take to the hills in a screaming run. After this effort the pike slowed down and I was able to steer it into the net. I measured it at 82cm and it was in excellent condition weighing just under fifteen pounds - not a bad start to my piking. I fished on for half an hour trying a few likely spots. Eventually I arrived at a bend with an overhanging bush and a small, deep slack beneath where I stood. I lowered the bait in and twitched it for a minute or two then there was a sort of explosion as a pike rocketed from under a mass of floating weed and broke the surface as it grabbed the lure. The shock was almost too much for me but I tightened up and was again into a decent pike, a little smaller than my first. This one fought much harder and it was a few minutes until I led it towards the net - then the hook fell out! Ah well, that's fishing, I guess I must have eased off a fraction as I tried to net it.

I attached my last bait and moved on further downstream. After fifteen minutes or so of cast and retrieve the bait flew off as I cast so I wound in and went home. All in all an encouraging start and a good test for the circle hook rig (it's always nice to confirm that it works). And best of all the back feels fine.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you!' get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to -

The bait - a decent dace.


The hook is through both lips and a small piece of rubber band stops the bait coming off too easily.


Fifteen pounds of pike in superb condition..


As usual beautifully hooked around the maxilla.


My obligatory selfie.